It’s really difficult to take a movie that actually uses the same sound effects and logic as a cartoon with talking animals seriously. Lucky for you, this is another Luc Besson written film that requires none of that for you to enjoy Brick Mansions. The film takes you into the not too distant future where Detroit (whose future is always cinematically bleak) has erected a Berlin-esque wall separating “good” Detroit from “bad” Detroit. After crime lord Tremaine (RZA) accidentally steals and activates a bomb set to go off in the “bad” part of Detroit, known as Brick Mansions, it is up to Detective Damien Collier (Paul Walker) and ex-con Lino (David Belle) to save Brick Mansions, Lino’s ex-girlfriend Lola (Catalina Denis), and probably figure out who the real bad guys are (which we figured out about ten minutes into the film).
Brick Mansions is one Acme anvil drop away from being a Looney Toons cartoon. That includes all the typical hero and villain archetypes with names like K2, Rayzah (known for carrying an old style shaving razor), and a simple, non-verbal giant called Yeti. Even Paul Walker was typecast as almost exactly the same role that made him famous in the Fast and Furious franchise, but that’s not a bad thing since this is the role he excelled in the most. There were enough shoot outs, roof jumps, and car chases to almost convince you that this could be part of the Fast and Furious canon. Say what you will about the franchise, but at least most of them are better written than this diluted, unnecessary remake of French film District B13.
I could almost overlook the fact that from the very beginning no plot development or situation made sense, if it weren’t for the terrible, slice-and-dice editing that minced the slow-motion impact shots together in a near incoherent and mundane way. The visuals are interesting to say the least. The director set up camera shots in a decreasingly clever sequence, so that when you reach the end of the film, you’re unimpressed and have seen them all. Since the beginning, it felt like the film was shot with 3D in mind, but (luckily) there must have been at least one person looking out for the audience’s best interests and decided against it.
The real enjoyment in the film, aside from the explosions and hilariously awful cliches, would have to be the fight scenes. Paul Walker played a big role in them, but he was usually the acting talent. The true fighting talent came from Belle, who moved with the ease and fluidity of water. When the editing would permit, watching his acrobatic, parkour fighting style was the most interesting part of the entire film, akin to watching a Cirque du Soleil performance. All of that aside, Brick Mansions would have been better if you completely eliminated the story and just had Walker glowering in a perpetual high-speed car chase with Belle gyroscopically fighting enemies on the roof, all while RZA contributes comedic one-liners from the backseat while mixing some Wu Tang Clan beats for an hour and a half. No Luc Besson required.
RATING: ★★★★★(5/10 stars)
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